HARBIN, China – Using a trio of power-play tallies, the U.S. Women's National Team posted a 4-2 victory over Canada to advance to the gold-medal game of the 2008 International Ice Hockey Federation World Women's Championship here today at the Baqu Arena. The United States and Canada will rematch for the championship on Saturday, April 7, at 7 a.m. EDT, which will air live on the NHL Network for viewers in the United States.
After Canada went up 2-1 in the first period, Team USA tied it up in the second frame and added the game-winner midway through the final stanza to secure its first world-championship victory over the Canadians since 2005.
"We're very proud of our team's effort this afternoon," said Jackie Barto, head coach for Team USA. "We stuck to our game plan and executed extremely well. We were able to apply a lot of pressure on the forecheck and generate energy off that. The difference today was the execution of our power play and penalty kill and we came up big with key blocked shots. We had our backs against the wall and we were able to get the job done. We look forward to Saturday's rematch in the gold-medal game."
The Canadians jumped on the board first in the opening frame, using their first power-play chance to take an early 1-0 lead. After U.S. netminder Jessie Vetter (Cottage Grove, Wis.) made the initial save on a Gina Kingsbury shot, Jayna Hefford put the rebound high into the net at 4:21.
Just over ten minutes later, at 15:34, Team USA converted on its own power play to knot the score at 1-1. Julie Chu (Fairfield, Conn.) sent a pass to Natalie Darwitz (Eagan, Minn.), who skated the puck into the Canadian zone and put it between Charline Labonte's legs with a low wrister from the goalmouth at 15:34. The tie did not last long, as Kelly Bechard wristed a shot just inside the far post from the right faceoff circle at 16:08 to give Canada a 2-1 advantage.
While up a man in the second period, the United States tied the game at 2-2. Rachael Drazan(Orono, Minn.) took a shot from the left point that deflected off Gigi Marvin (Warroad, Minn.) to Caitlin Cahow (Branford, Conn.) in the right faceoff circle. Cahow one-timed it past Labonte at 6:33.
Team USA capitalized again on the power play in the third stanza to take its first lead of the game. Jenny Potter (Edina, Minn.) passed to Darwitz in the right corner and Darwitz fed it to Meghan Duggan (Danvers, Mass.), who slapped it in it from the bottom of the slot at 8:24 for a 3-2 score.
The U.S. lead lasted through the remainder of the frame and Darwitz added an empty-net insurance goal at 19:36 with Labonte pulled in favor of an extra attacker.
Labonte made 16 saves in net for Canada, while Vetter stopped 14 for the United States.
NOTES: Natalie Darwitz was named U.S. Player of the Game ... Team USA outshot Canada by a 20-16 margin ... Team USA was 3-for-10 on the power play, while holding Canada to 1-for-9 ... Julie Chu played played at forward during the game ... The last time Team USA beat Canada in world-championship play came in the gold-medal game in 2005, when the United States posted a 1-0 shootout win ... All Team USA games are being audiocast live via usahockey.com, and are later archived with video in the same location ... Team USA has won one gold medal and nine silver medals in the 10 previous IIHF World Women’s Championships … Joining Jackie Barto on the coaching staff as assistant coaches are Paul Flanagan, head women’s ice hockey coach at Syracuse University, and Kevin Houle, head women’s ice hockey coach at SUNY-Plattsburgh. Dave Flint, head women's ice hockey coach at Saint Anselm College, is serving as the goaltending coach.